I read this Buzzfeed article called 12 Things That Made Getting A Dog So Much Easier For Me and found that none of it applied to our situation. The writer had adopted a puppy, while we brought a three-year-old doggo into our home. Hers was also quite small, while ours weighed 57 pounds (underweight).
So which items helped me most as a new rescue dog parent?
Ruby was both brawny and completely untrained. During walks, I feared she might lunge toward a squirrel and get away from me. This harness was a damned lifesaver. When she tugs, her chin is pulled into her chest, which keeps my shoulder in its socket.
2. A variety of treats and toys
Learn from my mistakes: The last thing you’ll want to do when adjusting to a routine of walking a dog multiple times a day is run to the store 14 times to buy something you didn’t get ahead of time. (Although, this is probably inevitable).
If you want some of this stuff delivered to your door, sign up for BarkBox. In my experience, it’s totally worth the monthly cost and so much easier to have it delivered to your door.
Cost: You can go for the cheap treats & toys from Target. Your dog won’t care.
3. Multiple beds
I had read somewhere online a recommendation to buy a dog several beds to spread around the house. I thought, Are you kidding me? No freaking way. Fast forward 5 months, and we have 3 dog beds in our 4-room apartment. Our design aesthetic has gone to shit, and we have accepted this. But, in the kitchen, it helps for Ruby to have her spot so she isn’t under our feet.
4. A crate
I had never owned a dog kennel before. But rescue dogs are afraid of everything—microwave beeps, a door handle rattle, neighbors in the hallway—and need a safe space for the first couple of months. This is often the crate.
It stopped Ruby from chewing up our shoes, which she liked to do in the middle of the night when she wasn’t locked up. She doesn’t chew anymore, and we stopped using the crate after 5 months, but it made life so much easier to know she was contained when she needed to be.
Cost: We bought the large Amazon Basics crate for around $35.
5. Cans of plain pumpkin
Rescue dogs often have sensitive stomachs when they first come home, either from a virus they picked up at the shelter or from stress. A couple of scoops of pumpkin in their food does wonders. Or even replacing entire meals if their stomachs go on the fritz.
Cost: Under $2 at a supermarket. Avoid the over-priced pet-specific variety at Petco.
6. Throwaway blankets
Our couch is always covered with blankets (again, bye bye design aesthetic). Best to buy cheap fleece blankets or use old sheets or towels designated for the dog. Whether you’re using them on furniture, on the floor, in your car, or over your bed, you’ll need at least one or two blankets you can dedicate to your dog.
Cost: As cheap as possible, I say. Here’s a fleece blanket for $8 on Amazon.
7. Training classes
Man, if I could shout from the rooftops how much training classes helped us, I would. We needed a specific type of training (leash reactivity) and we found it. A 6-week course at Spot On Training, and she was like a different dog. Or maybe we were like different owners—we gained confidence as handlers.
With rescue dogs, you inherit their quirks and past owners’ mistakes, so the more outside help you can get, the better.
Cost: $270 for a 6-week course. But it’s priceless.
8. Music player
This is silly, but we think playing music for the first few weeks when she was alone helped Ruby to calm down. At least, it helped with our guilt about leaving her alone.
Cost: Use an iPod or Alexa. If you don’t have speakers, here’s a $20 wireless bluetooth speaker on Amazon.
9. Grooming & health supplies
Aside from the obvious (dog shampoo, nail cutters, ear cleaning solution, flea & tick prevention), most grooming supplies are quite useless. Dogs don’t need conditioner. Or nail files, unless you are way more talented with a nail file than me. Or even a brush, if your dog is short-haired. And, as far as I understand, if a dog can chew bones, it doesn’t need a toothbrush. (I might be completely wrong, though. Do your own research.)
Cost: Get the cheap stuff. You don’t need the fancy nail cutters or $15 dog shampoo. The $5 Target brand works just fine.
10. Pet cleaning spray
Nature’s Miracle pet spray is amazing. Go get it. Your rescue dog will throw up in the car, or poop on the floor, or pee in the corner. Just buy this.
Cost: Under $7.00 on Chewy.com.
11. Somewhere to hide your shoes
For the aforementioned shoe chewing. All could have been avoided if our shoes were hanging out of reach or in a closet rather than scattered all over the floor.
12. Frozen bones
If your dog is big enough to chew on bones, they will probably love these. They are Ruby’s favorite treat. We give her one or two a week, and they keep her occupied for days. We buy them from our local pet store. As long as the bones are thick enough to not splinter, you’re good.
Cost: $12-15 for a pack of 4.
I hope this helps someone with their first foray into rescue dog ownership. It’s so worth it. Post in the comments if you have any other vital ways to spoil your rescue pup!
Until next time,